WIVB | Katie Alexander

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Queen City’s multi-million dollar startup competition is underway for its third year, after a kickoff event Friday morning.

43North gives $5 million in prizes annually to entrepreneurs to help them get off the ground here in Buffalo. This year, the prizes for the finalists will be larger than in years past. For the last two years, 10 finalists received $250,000 in prize money with a top winner taking home $1 million.

Now, the top winner will still receive $1 million, but a runner up will receive $600,000, and six other finalists will get $500,000 each. Additionally, as part of this year’s competition, there will be $400,000 in follow-on funding available.

On top of the monetary prizes, the winners also receive tax breaks, dedicated mentors and staff, and space in the 43North Incubator on Ellicott Street. To be eligible for the competition, entrants must agree to move their operations to Buffalo for a year if they are selected as a finalist.

Funding for the 43North competition comes largely from the Buffalo Billion initiative, which identified entrepreneurship opportunities as a weakness in Buffalo when the funding was first allocated.

Leaders with 43North joined volunteers, judges, and past winners Friday morning at the Incubator to lay out the details of this year’s contest, which they say will be the most exciting one yet.

This year, for the first time, there will be a submission fee to enter the competition. That will cost $50 per entry that’s received by March 31. After that, the fee goes up to $100. Waivers are available for the fee for those who need them.

The final entry deadline is May 31. The winners will be announced on October 27, when the the two top finishers will make their pitch to an audience of community members, fighting for the million dollar prize or the runner up position.

More information about the competition is available online at 43North.org.